As a British female who happened to choose a life working in China for the past 3 years, I can proudly say that China has become like a second home to me and several of my fellow expat friends here. I took the brave decision to stay in my apartment situated in China’s capital city of Beijing throughout the entire Coronavirus epidemic. I’ve been in the country where it all started, and witnessed the panic, mayhem and anxiety it has wreaked on a country, for two-months straight now.
I am writing this article with the intention of helping you and your family cope with the situation in your own country, to tell you exactly how China was able to control the spread of the virus so rapidly and unfortunately why the rest of the world may fail to do so. Please share this information with your loved ones to give them the best chance of avoiding this horrible virus. Read on for Coronavirus: China has it Under Control, Now Europe Must Follow the Rules.
Living through the Coronavirus Chaos as a British Woman in China
News of the Coronavirus began spreading like wildfire across China and the rest of the world in the middle of January. In China, families were busy preparing for their New Year and looking forward to the week-long holiday where they could finally have a rest from their usual 8 hour-per-day, 5 day-a-week jobs.
Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is the most important festival of the entire year for Chinese people. Unfortunately the much anticipated celebrations and family gatherings had been well and truly cancelled, what a way to herald in the new year!
A Quick Timeline…
On 24th January 2020, there was a total of 876 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in China, at this point there were no confirmed cases in Europe.
By 25th January, the number of confirmed cases rapidly increased to 1,403. As of today, 19th March, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China is at a staggering 80,860. Bear in mind that China has a population of 1.4 billion.
Anyway, from the middle of January until the beginning of March the number of confirmed cases continued to soar every day, I remember the feeling of dread upon waking up to check how many more cases were discovered while I was asleep.
Confirmed Cases of the Virus in China Starting to Fall
However, by the time the second week of March arrived, it appeared that the number of confirmed cases of the virus were finally starting to fall instead of rise, hooray! This trend is fortunately continuing much to China’s relief, however another scenario is unfolding before our eyes across the map in countries such as Italy, America, South Korea and the UK.
Now that cases are becoming fewer by the day in China, world news has placed the spotlight of its attention on the very countries once deemed to be safe.
By March 11th there were 14,980 people infected with the virus across Asia, at the same time, there were 17,568 people infected across Europe. The countries that worried expats of China were once fleeing to, in order to escape the virus, now seem to be in just as dire a situation as China once was…perhaps even worse.
The Million Dollar Question: How was China able to Control the Spread of the Virus in a Month?
More importantly, will Europe be able to follow suit? Now I am going to give you the low down on all of the measures the Chinese government and citizens have implemented which has directly resulted in a tumbling down of numbers of infected cases nationwide.
People in this Case, Obey their Government
One thing you may know about China is the strong power the government tends to hold over their citizens.
The advantages and disadvantages of this communist approach is another topic for discussion later on, however this played a vital part in taming the spread of the virus. The government immediately responded to the epidemic by enforcing strict security and sanitation measures throughout the country, and you know what? Everyone (for the most part) abides by these rules!
Rules? What Rules?
1. Closing Schools & Workplaces
That’s right, ALL schools, universities, colleges offices, factories, international companies, you name it, were forced to close since the beginning of February. Why? To prevent people from mixing, mingling and whatever else that would accelerate the spread of the virus.
2. Festivals Cancelled
As mentioned, Chinese New Year means many festivals and parties in China, however all public events were cancelled to slow the spread of the virus.
3. High Security in Open Public Places
Of course some public places need to remain open like shops, hospitals, some parks, and subway stations. However entering these places is now an experience like never before.
Before people enter they are greeted by a security guard or staff member holding an electronic temperature gun ready to deem you as safe or not. Needless to say, those with a normal body temperature are permitted to go about their business. On the other hand if you have a temperature of 37.3 Celsius or above then you’re in trouble. You won’t be permitted entry and the police and or ambulance will likely be called.
4. High Security in Neighborhoods
Most of us live in apartment complexes here, at least in Beijing anyway, with multiple gates to enter and freedom to enter when and where you please.
This sense of freedom has all changed recently, with just one or two main gates being open and heavily secured by guards and sometimes police officers. Myself, like most other people in Beijing no longer have the right to enter our own apartment complex without showing an I.D card issued by the complex.
If I want to leave my complex and don’t have my card, tough luck. If I want to enter my complex without my card, tough luck too!. Oh, and the guard checks everyone’s temperature as they walk/drive through the gate too. Same rules apply.
In China You Must Wear a Mask
It is now highly frowned upon if you are caught outside of your home without a mask on. In some cities I hear it’s illegal to not wear a mask and people have been arrested over it. Wearing a proper mask prevents virus- sized particles from entering your airways…better to be safe than sorry!
All cities in China currently have designated fever and virus treatment hospitals, to prevent potential coronavirus sufferers from infecting other sick patients.
It is essential for everybody who enters any city from another city or from another country to self-quarantine for 14 days, no exceptions. The government can check citizens’ whereabouts according to their Chinese I.D number, and also by passports for foreigners…no hiding!
A Community Effort
I think the most commendable thing here is how seriously and cautiously people in China are treating the situation. People are wearing their masks daily, volunteering to clean public areas, washing their hands, staying indoors, taking care of themselves, their friends and loved ones.
So, as you can see there is much effort being made to halt the spread of the coronavirus in China. Most of the success is due to how diligent and cautious people are acting and behaving towards the situation. You don’t see people getting a month off work and heading to the beach with thousands of others or having pints down the pub with strangers who may or may not have just returned from travelling from Asia!
The problem with Europe is that people just seem to be a little bit too relaxed about the whole thing. The governments in Europe also aren’t so fast-acting and even if they do suggest something, too many people still won’t listen.
Whether or not Boris Johnson says schools and workplaces are to close (well he has now!) does not matter, make up your own mind about how best to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.